All posts filed under: MUSIC

Let’s make Mississippi an ‘American Idol’

In light of the controversial events that have transpired because of Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 locally and nationally, with protests by notable Mississippians and some companies refusing to do business in the state, the yin and yang of the universe decided that on the last season of one of America’s top-rated television shows, two Mississippians were selected to showcase their artistic talent – one of the fine things Mississippi is very well known for – and a Mississippian won the contest. Within every place and every person, you can find both good and bad. For far too long, Mississippi has had a reputation of ranking last in many categories. It has become trite to recite the list. The state has the highest high school dropout rate, the highest teen pregnancy rate, the highest obesity rate, highest poverty rate, worst economy, and the lowest life expectancy in the country. Mississippi students have ranked last in school performance, and the state has one of the highest unemployment rates. We read these studies over and over again, and …

Mississippi native Faith Hill answers questions via Facebook

“Mississippi Girl” Faith Hill took a moment last week to answer fan questions via Facebook. Here’s what they asked, and here are some of her answers: Q. What is your favorite Tim McGraw song? A. How could I choose? He has a million! “My Best Friend” is a really great one. Q. Faith, you are my inspiration to follow my dream of being a country singer! I’m a bit curious as to what your inspiration was? A. I was one of two people who listened to country music at my high school. I definitely wasn’t part of the “cool group” at the time! But when I saw Reba for the first time in concert, I wanted to do whatever it took to make it as a musician. Lots of hard work! Q. What’s your favorite gospel song? A. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Q. What is your favorite memory from the past shows at the Venetian? A. Other than the time on stage with my husband in front of such an intimate crowd, …

Mississippi native LeAnn Rimes and hubby next couple to try reality TV

Many couples have done it, and for some, it has ended badly. Starring in your own reality show isn’t always good for relationships. Just ask Jessica Simpson and a slew of other celebs who put their private lives on national TV and later divorced. But maybe things will be different for LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, who will soon have their own VH1 reality show. “We are really excited to be working together on a unique show that will give you a glimpse into who we really are, or better yet, who we’re really not,” said the Rimes in a news release. Rimes and Cibrian have been tabloid targets thanks to Cibrian’s ex-wife, Brandi Glanville, who stars on Bravo’s “The Housewives of Beverly Hills,” where she has often publicly discussed frustrations about her ex-husband and his new wife. Rimes Tweeted Thursday: “Thx for all the love about our new show. We are very excited to do something new and unique.” Rimes, a Pearl native, who has won multiple Grammy Awards, has been in the spotlight …

Priscilla Presley says Kanye won’t be buying Graceland

Some Elvis fans were are all shook up earlier this year about the possibility that Kanye West might be purchasing Graceland, but Priscilla Presley, ex-wife of the late Tupelo native, said it isn’t going to happen. “There is absolutely no truth to the rumor about selling Graceland,” Presley said on Facebook and Twitter. “From what I understand, this gossip came out of the tabloids in London. This will NEVER happen.” Presley received a slew of comments from fans. “Amen! No amount of money will ever see Elvis’ beloved home belong to anyone other than the Presleys! Thank you for saving Graceland all those years ago Priscilla, & Thank you Lisa for sharing your home with all of us,” said one fan. Others thanked Presley for preserving the home. “Thank you for the assurance Priscilla,” said Melissa Laster via Facebook. “I made a lot of childhood visits to Graceland while my brother was undergoing cancer treatment at St. Jude, so Graceland is a place very close to my heart. I am SO thrilled to hear that …

‘Bling Ring’ star from Mississippi lands new role in music video

Mississippi native Israel Broussard, who won a leading role in director Sophia Coppola’s recent movie “The Bling Ring,” is now starring in a new music video directed by Bryce Dallas Howard. Howard is an actress who starred in “The Village,” Lady in the Water” “Terminator Salvation” and “The Help,” which was filmed in Mississippi. She also happens to be the daughter of director Ron Howard, aka Opie Taylor. Broussard is featured in the video with Lily Collins, daughter of musician Phil Collins, who also has a Mississippi tie. She starred as Collins Tuohy, daughter of Sandra Bullock’s character Leigh Anne Tuohy, in “The Blind Side.” The music group M83 released the video for their track “Claudia Lewis.” It’s is about a blue haired girl who appears out of nowhere and attends a local high school, where she doesn’t seem to understand what her peers are experiencing, like love and pain. When she finally receives a kiss from Broussard, they are magically transported somewhere in the universe. You can watch the video here. Got a comment? …

What do Jethro and Bobbie Gentry have in common?

Well, today’s the third of June, and Mississippians all know what happened on that day. Yep, that’s the day Choctaw Ridge resident Billie Joe McAllister tragically jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Why? We may never know. Just like we may never know what he and Bobbie Lee Hartley (the female lead character in the movie adaptation) fictionally tossed into the water before his suicidal plunge. Quick movie fact: Did you know that the film “Ode to Billy Joe” – based on Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 song – was directed and produced by Max Baer Jr.? Yep, that’s right – Jethro from “The Beverly Hillbillies.” It was made for $1 million and grossed $27 million at the box office. Not bad for 1976. And at least part of it was filmed in Mississippi. Google it, and you can find news articles about filming in Vaiden. Another commenter just told me part of it was shot in Itta Bena. Last night, I heard the song “Harper Valley P.T.A.” (1968) for the first time in years, and it made …

Keep your eye on rising star Katherine Bailess, a Mississippi girl who has "Hit the Floor" on VH1

Keep your eye on Kat Bailess, a Vicksburg girl who just got a lead role on a new VH1 scripted series called “Hit the Floor.” Katherine definitely steals the spotlight with her comedic timing. And on a personal note, she was very kind and down-to-earth to talk to during our recent interview. Check out her official website, to see a showcase of Katherine’s acting, singing and dancing. She also released this video and song that she co-wrote called “Missin’ Mississippi.” You may remember Katherine Bailess, 33, from the first “American Idol” movie “From Justin to Kelly” in 2003 when she played the singing, dancing vixen Alexa. Or maybe you’ve seen her in that recent viral video “$@!# Southern Women Say” that’s circulated the Web. But come Memorial Day, the Mississippi native will “Hit the Floor” as one of the stars of VH1’s new one-hour scripted series about the drama and comedy of a fictional professional dance team called the Los Angeles Devil Girls. The first of ten episodes aired Monday. Born in 1980 in Vicksburg, …

Pearl native LeAnn Rimes is a "Spitfire" in new album

Pearl native LeAnn Rimes Tweeted links to three new videos from her latest album “Spitfire” this week, and the title track, which has an old country, folksy feel, is great. “I know that you’re a dirty little liar. I’m not gonna get stuck in your muck and mire. You make me want to spit fire,” are the lyrics. It’s really one the best songs I’ve heard from Rimes’ in a long time. For a while, it seemed she was stuck singing crossover songs that weren’t really identifiable as country music, but there’s no mistaking this one. Her voice is so much better suited for pure country, and with these three, she doesn’t use popular vocal acrobatic tricks like Christina Aguilera and others who get caught up in proving their own range so much, they seem to forget about the actual quality of the song they are trying to perform, something I’ve seen Rimes do in the past. I’m sure “Spitfire” and some of the other songs on the album, on some level, are about the …

More of the story: From b-ball to blues, Jarekus Singleton can’t lose

When Jarekus Singleton was 12, he played for a basketball team called the Jackson Panthers, and spent most of his time on the bench, despite the fact that he knew he could play ball. When he left the Panthers for the Jackson Tigers, his perspective began to change. “My coaches saw something in me that I guess the Jackson Panthers didn’t,” said Singleton, 28. “My first year playing, I won the Newcomer of the Year Award. We went to nationals, and I was one of the top 10 scorers. Nothing had changed. I was the same guy. I was the same player. But I had to sit on the bench and watch people play in front of me, and I knew I was better than that. “I guess that’s why I’m so humble now because every little thing that I get is a monumental thing for me. I’m glad God made me understand that at an early age in life. I’ve had to literally fight for every inch in life that I have gained, whether …

More of the story: Christian artist Brandon Heath comes to Mississippi and talks about “Blue Mountain”

When many Mississippians hear “Blue Mountain,” they think of the 135-year-old, private Christian college supported by the Mississippi Baptist Convention in the Appalachia region of Northeast Mississippi. It’s a place Christian singer Brandon Heath never knew existed when he created a fictional location called Blue Mountain set in Appalachia that is the theme of his new album by the same name. As a child, Heath often visited his parents who lived outside of Knoxville, and on the drive, he’d soak up the sights and sounds of Appalachia. Struck by the mountains, his imagination ran wild as he envisioned that they were the backs of dinosaurs. For his latest album, Heath wanted to write character-driven songs with their own stories, but he needed a framework. He conceptualized the album theme after a friend recited a C.S. Lewis quote about Blue Mountains. “In the distance, they are mysterious and majestic, and you can’t touch them,” he said, “but when you get up close to them, you realize they are just brown and green. They aren’t blue at …

Analyzing the lyrics of nation’s current Top 10 songs

I guess it’s the literature major in me that always wants to analyze song lyrics. I don’t listen to a lot of new music; I’m more of a classic rock fan. But occasionally, I like to take a look at what’s popular on the charts and read the lyrics to see if today’s songs are beautifully poetic or just downright awful. I took at look at the Billboard Top 100 Chart this week, and here are the Top 10 songs that the kids are listening to today: 10. I Cry – Flo Rida I didn’t really understand one word of this rap song until I watched the video. The singer is looking back over his life and struggles, as well as some of the nation’s.The song is about a dysfunctional couple who fights hard, throws things and slams doors. The guy keeps saying he’s going to leave, but he can’t break free from the sexual relationship. He prays he’ll only stay one more night, even though he’s said it a million times. 8. Scream & …

Charlie Mars’ Mississippi roots

In the title song off Mississippi native Charlie Mars’ latest album, Blackberry Light (Rockingham Records/Thirty Tigers), he conveys the uncertainty of life for the young and the restless who ramble around trying to find their place in the world. “One minute I want to pick up and move on,” he sings. “The next minute I want to pack up and move home.” Home is Oxford, where Mars has lived since 2000 (minus a three-year stint in New York City) while building a career and fan base. “I live on the square in Oxford, and I have my coffee place that I go to, and life is good in Mississippi,” said Mars, who called from Annapolis, Md, while touring. “I travel a great deal, but it’s always been a nice place to come home to. I love being able to see my family and be close to them. And you can live a pretty nice life in Mississippi (cheaply). “Oxford feels like a cultural home, where someone who is a little different like me can fit …

Mississippi native competes on The Voice

Laurel native Liz Davis fondly recalls performing for her grandparents at their Greenville home. “I was very loud,” she said, “so when everyone was sitting around, I would be on the fireplace acting like it was a stage.” Tonight at 7, you can catch a glimpse of her performing on the national stage as one of the Top 64 contestants vying for a recording contract on the NBC show “The Voice.” “It’s a recap of the Top 64, so everybody can see whose on each team and get familiar with everyone before the Battle Rounds start next week,” Davis said. “During the Battle Rounds, a coach picks two members of his team to battle it out, and actually cuts the teams down to half.” Davis auditioned for the show singing the Gretchen Wilson hit “Here for the Party.” Three of the four judges — Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera — pushed their I Want You button. She chose Shelton as her mentor. Davis calls herself a “late bloomer” to singing. The first time …

The Band Perry needs your vote

In The Band Perry’s song “All Your Life,” lead singer Kimberly Perry asks her man to show his devotion by meeting some lofty requests. Then, she explains, she doesn’t need all that – she just wants to be the only girl “you love all your life.” In the video, Mississippi natives Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry are fictional members of a vintage sideshow – free spirits who wander from town to town performing. That’s not much of a stretch because they are currently touring with Brad Paisley who will be in Southaven Aug. 17 at the Snowden Amphitheatre. Until then, you can vote for the band’s “All Your Life” video up for CMT Music Award’s Group Video of the Year. The show airs live June 6. “‘All Your Life’ is a hopeful romantics’ song,” said Reid Perry by phone. “We meet up with some of our friends who are performers. One is a snake charmer. One is a medicine man. It’s a neat video of all of us coming together and sharing an experience. We …

The Mississippi Mass Choir

Jackson resident Mosie Burks, 77, thought she’d live a quiet existence after retirement and travel the country with her husband, but 15 years ago, she embarked on a journey that gave new spiritual meaning to the term “the golden years.” At the suggestion of Mississippi Mass Choir Music Minister Jerry Smith, Burks auditioned for a spot as a singer. “I just really went for the heck of it,” she said. “I had no notion they would choose me. I told them I felt I was of age, and I wanted young people to have the privilege of being a part of it instead.” But Burks soon began to rethink things. Shortly after being selected, she performed a song called When I Rose This Morning that topped the charts, affirming that she’d found her new calling. The lyrics are about waking up with faith that God will take care of you. Today, some consider Burks the face of the Mississippi Mass Choir. The group released its ninth album this week called Then Sings My Soul. It …

Do you know what Babalu means?

I Love Lucy fans are familiar with the word “Babalu.” Ricky Ricardo frequently belted out his signature song, a Cuban standard, at his Tropicana nightclub before it was renamed Club Babalu. The song references Babalu-Aye, a deity of Afro-Caribbean origin in the Santeria religion – a faith that blends African religion with some aspects of Christianity. The singer cries out to Babalu to bring his lost love back. It’s also a word that Jackson restaurant owner Al Roberts tucked away in his mind, thinking it would be a great restaurant name. The Fondren eatery Babalu Tacos & Tapas opened five weeks ago at 622 Duling Ave. Three classrooms that were part of the old Duling School were transformed into the space. Enter and your eyes are drawn to a wall projection of vintage I Love Lucy clips. “I was in a restaurant (out of state) that had a small screen that they were showing cowboy movies on,” Roberts said. “When I saw that, I thought we could put I love Lucy on it.” The restaurant’s …

Brittany Murphy’s work

Brittany Murphy was a talented actress and someone who I thought would have a lengthy film career. She was also a great singer – a gift she hadn’t exhibited much in film with the exception of voiceover work done in “Happy Feet.” Murphy was good at comedy, good at drama, and I figured she’d eventually be big on Broadway, so her December 2009 death was shocking. The Hollywood Reporter published an article this week that seems to shed some light on what happened to Murphy or how it happened. Following her death, I watched four of her films and was impressed by three. The Dead Girl (2006) features a cast of great actors starring in vignettes that are all linked by Murphy’s character, a girl who ran away from home to escape abuse and leads an out-of-control life until it ends. The performances of all are great, but Murphy has always stood out when playing unhinged, psychologically lost and unpredictable characters, choices that remind me a lot of the bold work of Juliette Lewis. In …

More Mississippians compte for reality show cash

Patrick House isn’t the only person with Mississippi ties to compete in a televised reality talent competition this week, nor is he the first to win one this year. As Clarion-Ledger reporter Dustin Barnes wrote today, two sets of siblings who attended Madison Central High School competed tonight for the top prize on NBC’s Sing-Off at 8 p.m. Brothers Jeremy and Richie Lister, and brothers Jon and Mark McLemore, 2/3 of the group Street Corner Symphony, are one of the remaining acts to perform live on the a cappella singing competition hosted by Nick Lachey. The winners, judged by Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, and Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the Pussycat Dolls, will receive $100,000 and a Sony Music recording contract. Aside from House, other recent reality show winners with Mississippi ties include: * Waveland native Michael Grimm, who won $1 million on NBC’s America’s Got Talent in September. * University of Southern Mississippi student Whitney Miller of Poplarville who won Fox’s MasterChef the same month. * Liz …

E-lec-tron-ic Santa’s going to crash your Christmas party

There’s 16 days left before Santa comes to town, and you still haven’t gotten in the Christmas spirit? This year, it’s easier than ever because of all the free music downloads you can find online. Last week, I saw a Target commercial with a robot dancing in front of a Christmas tree. He was singing “E-lec-tron-ic Santa Claus,” and I wanted to know if it was actually a song. I searched YouTube for the video and found a link to Target’s free holiday album The Christmas Gig featuring 14 original and modern Christmas songs sure to bring cheer. The Electronic Santa song by Blazer Force is a dance track with a Santa robot that will “rock your body,” knows you’re nice and naughty and plans to crash your Christmas party. Equally cool is the hip-hop track Toy Jackpot by Blackalicious written from the perspective of an excited child on Christmas morning. A Facebook friend also posted a link to Paste Magazine with more free Christmas music to download. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com …

Blind Faith and the blues

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson was raised in New England, but when her vision began to fade in 1995, she turned to art to cope. That decision eventually brought her to Mississippi where she began working on a decade-long project creating lifecasts of legendary blues musicians’ faces. The original casts have been exhibited at Delta State University since 2008, and a smaller exhibit is now housed in Cleveland’s Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum. “With all the changes I’ve had in my life – going blind, having to recreate myself, reengineer my life, losing my livelihood and my identity – this project has helped me get through that and gave me a different perspective of my life,” she said. Miller said a railroad line nicknamed The Peavine ran across the county from Dockery Plantation near Cleveland that’s known to many as the birthplace of Delta blues. She said Eric Clapton took Traveling Riverside Blues and Cross Road Blues by Robert Johnson and blended them into his version of Crossroads. Miller said the project is important because so …

Translating the nation’s top songs

It’s time, once again, to translate the top five singles on The Billboard Hot 100 chart. Again, I don’t intend to make a moral judgment about the lyrics. My interest stems from a desire to productively channel sarcasm and literary criticize. We R Who We R – Ke$ha conflictingly describes herself as a hot and dangerous wearer of hot pants, eye glitter, ripped stockings and a necklace that bears a Christian symbol. She says being serious gives her a headache. Like A G6 – Far East Movement sings about drinking alcoholic beverages while riding in an automobile. Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars sings about the eyes, hair, nails and laugh of a beautiful (and obviously insecure) girl, who he daily reassures by telling her she’s amazing and perfect. Only Girl (In the World) – Rihanna, perhaps out of jealousy or a desire to annihilate all other females on the planet, sings that she wants her boyfriend to make her feel like she’s the only girl in the world. Just a Dream – …

Northeast Mississippi Music

Elvis Presley and blues legend Howlin’ Wolf were from Northeast Mississippi, but some say that compared to the Mississippi Delta and other parts of the state, the region’s music and musicians have received little attention from scholars. Hence, the creation of The Northeast Mississippi Music Documentation Project, a partnership of the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Click through the website and you can see a number of regional singers who were documented during research conducted in 2002 and 2003. Their styles include bluegrass, dulcimer, country and gospel. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

A trip to Merigold

I recently took a trip to Merigold to write a travel story for The Clarion-Ledger about the small town and it’s unique features. My stops included McCartys Pottery, a restaurant called The Gallery owned by the McCartys, Crawdad’s restaurant and Po’ Monkey Lounge, which is known by many as the last authentic juke joint in America. Listen to the interview ‘McCartys Pottery in Merigold’ on Audioboom. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Beth Nielsen Chapman performs

She co-wrote the 1998 hit This Kiss, a song made popular by Mississippi native Faith Hill that became the soundtrack for the movie Practical Magic. It was nominated for a Grammy and was the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ 1999 Song Of The Year. Beth Nielsen Chapman has also written songs for Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Neil Diamond, Patty Griffin and Emmylou Harris while producing numerous albums of her own. She recently visited Jackson to perform during the International Ballet Competition. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save